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tomatrondroid's avatar

What would happen if a hole was drilled straight through the Earth from one side to the other and someone jumped in?

Asked by tomatrondroid (123points) August 13th, 2011

If, hypothetically, a massive hole was drilled from one side of the earth, through the center, and back out the other side, without the world collapsing or imploding and someone jumped in what would happen to them. This question is based around the gravity shift that would, assumably, occur halfway down; and is not to be taken literally. If you dropped a person or object down this hole; what would happen when they hit the middle? Would they go past this point, only to be slingshotted back and forth until a neutral point was found? Would the person feel a slow increase in pressure as they fell to eventually be crushed, or would the force of the fall, and the lack of density, be enough to void this pressure? Would they hit the middle like a tomato to a brick wall and splatter as if hitting a solid object? Or some other alternative?...

For this question to be answered properly a certain mindset must be assumed; the person/object DOES not hit the edges of the hole on the way down. They are not killed/destroyed on the way down by anything other than gravity (no, not even a heart attack or Chuck Norris). There is no lack of oxygen. The force of the fall alone does not kill/destroy them/it. The hole cannot be moved or broken or collapsed. The temperatures at the Earths core does not kill/damage them/it. All of these facts are assumed – even if they are not realistic. There are very few exceptions to these rules; i.e, the person can hit the sides of the hole if a logical reason other than trajectory of fall etcetera, is given; If they hit the sides due to the rotation of the Earth or this is a vital part of your theorie, then it is also up for discussion.

This question is purely philosophical, and relative; have fun with it, think outside the box. I’ve pondered this many a time, and I’ve always wondered what others thought…

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46 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Their hair would get all messed up.

FutureMemory's avatar

They would melt once they got to the molten core.

filmfann's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I wish I could give you 100 lurve for that!

filmfann's avatar

Assuming the pressure/heat/lack of oxigen doesn’t kill you, you would pass thru the center, slow down, be pulled back, pass thru the center, etc. many times. You would probably continue doing this forever, since, I am guessing, you would reach a kind of weightlessness at the center.

chyna's avatar

They would be in a different time zone.

poisonedantidote's avatar

It would take them 42 minutes to fall from one end out the other. At least according to a documentary I saw.

Personally, I think it would just cook you.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

As long as you don’t touch my dixie cup telephone string, then go ahead and jump. I’ll let them know you’re coming.

ucme's avatar

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! “Oh, hello there mister immigration occifer!”

tomatrondroid's avatar

@FutureMemory I agree. That’s why I removed that as a possibility. This is hypothetical; and based in an alternate reality where the molten core would have no effect on the person/object subject to the fall.

flutherother's avatar

It would be like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. You wouldn’t feel gravity as you would be in free fall, and you would eventually end up back where you started unless wind resistance slowed you down.

gasman's avatar

@filmfann is correct. It’s classic simple harmonic motion, just like a weight hanging from a spring bounces up & down.

The force of gravity is exactly proportional to your distance from the center of the Earth. So force decreases linearly, becomes zero as you zoom past the center, then rises in the other direction. You would emerge from the other side with zero velocity & endlessly repeat the cycle until friction eventually brought you to a stop at the center.

tomatrondroid's avatar

@poisonedantidote That goes for you too. It’d be a decent fall, I agree. A very nervous 42 (meaning of life, the universe, and everything) minutes. But heat is not a factor in this scenario.

@gasman First actual explanation anyone has ever given me, I’ve never been able to provide facts to support my theories. Now I will have those.

john65pennington's avatar

This person would never make to the other side. The earth’s center core would fry this person like a french frie.

If this person did make it, where would he eventually be? What country?

ragingloli's avatar

they would die as soon as they get to the mantle. Their remains would be vapourised once they get to the core.
Actually, that would not happen either, because magma would shoot out of that hole under high pressure

SavoirFaire's avatar

@john65pennington Where there person ended up would depend on where the hole was started. There’s a fun tool here that helps you figure it out.

Coloma's avatar

Remind me to eat a big, fat, Happy Brownie before I take that trip. lol

ucme's avatar

Lucky a hole wasn’t drilled through uranus, coz that’s anal intrusion right there & then :¬(

tomatrondroid's avatar

@john65pennington @ragingloli Once again. These factors are non-existant in this ‘reality’. The intense heat, etcetera, does not effect the person/object. And, where the person ended up would either be in the center, or; in the event that the force was enough to push them ALL the way through, then it would all depend on where the hole started.

gasman's avatar

This is a “thought experiment” about gravity and motion, right? Yes you would incinerate shortly into your journey to the center of the Earth. And good luck drilling that hole through the solid metallic core to a depth of at least 4000 miles…

tomatrondroid's avatar

@gasman Yes. Purely hypothetical, philosophical, theoretical, and relative only to the outlines in my explanation. I understand that it is not realistic. I understand that it could not, or would not, be done. I realise that the world would probably collapse on itself, and it’s orbit would probably change due to the change in mass, etcetera.

This, indeed, is a ‘thought experiment’. I agree that incineration would be the most likely outcome, probably promptly after an untimely death caused by another factor during the fall. That is why these factors do not apply in this ‘alternate reality’.

Hibernate's avatar

I believe after some time after he jumps he’ll stop falling.

AstroChuck's avatar

Haven’t you ever watched cartoons? He’d pop up in China.

Jellie's avatar

I imagine that the gravity would be strongest at the core (in fact emanates from there) so he’d just be stuck at the centre. Or, all gravitational force at the surface would be cancelling itself out at the centre so he’d just float there… Nice question.

Jellie's avatar

Why are people saying he’d fry!! The question is hypothetical and already excludes that as a possibility!!

Blondesjon's avatar

@AstroChuck . . . Wearing a coolie, no doubt. it’s warner brothers that’s racist folks, not me.

@tomatrondroid . . . You needn’t bother explaining over and over again what you posted in the body of your question to those that didn’t read it. Just let ‘em post like they know what they’re talking about and the rest of us can giggle at their comprehension skills.

In answer to your question, well, @gasman gave you the best answer. Welcome to Fluther.

tomatrondroid's avatar

@Blondesjon @sarahhhhh Thank you. You’ve subdued my building frustration. I was starting to think I’d worded this badly. Laugh I will.

gondwanalon's avatar

The jumper would eventually come to rest at the center of the Earth. At least what is left of him/her.

Jellie's avatar

@tomatrondroid welcome to Fluther, where no one reads the question.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@tomatrondroid No, your wording was fine.

gasman's avatar

@sarahhhhh I imagine that the gravity would be strongest at the core (in fact emanates from there)...
A reasonable and intuitive guess – but unfortunately wrong. Think of the solid earth as composed of nested spherical shells. The gravity inside any such shell is zero (this can be calculated using Newton’s theory).

So as you descend into the hole, you pass into the interior of more and more shells, while remaining outside a smaller and smaller number of shells between your present location and the center. It is the latter solid sphere, ever-decreasing in size below you, that generates gravitational force. When you reach the center you are weightless, though in this falling-through-the-hole scenario you also have maximum velocity.

The inverse-square law only applies outside the gravitational body.

Jellie's avatar

@gasman interesting. Yes I imagined it would either have a very strong gravitational force or none. Thank you. I always appreciate some education on this site.

wundayatta's avatar

The Earth’s guts would start leaking out. Like when you lance a boil.

mazingerz88's avatar

Guess you would get stuck at the center so better bring a jetpack to propel yourself all the way to the other side. : )

MacBatman31's avatar

Sounds like one hell of an acid trip.

Pandora's avatar

The pressure from the core would crush them but they would probably burn before that happens.
They wouldn’t even make it to the core, unless they find some mole people who have developed special machines that can help them survive the trip. Or are eaten by a giant earth worm (who by the way made the hole) whos body is designed to survive the extreme heat and pressure and spits them out at the end.

rebbel's avatar

Is it a black hole?

ddude1116's avatar

You’d find yourself in Pellucidar.

gondwanalon's avatar

@gasman It is too bad the Newton wasn’t around to read about Einstein’s theory of general relativity which has important astrophysical implications. For example the Earth’s gravity is not generated by the Earth but by the effect that the Earth imposes on the space-time continuum. You can’t hide from from this effect by going to the center of the Earth. The center of the Earth is actually the focal point of the Earth’s distortion of the space-time continuum. That is a place where you would NOT likely see things floating about weightless.

Berserker's avatar

No good with science, but I think that near the middle, the person would just start bumping around the walls and stuff, and ultimately get stuck there, falling ’‘back and forth’’.

Ron_C's avatar

I believe that the person’s speed will accelerate until he’s in the center of the earth. If all air is evacuated from the tunnel then the person will decelerate at the same rate and stop at the top of the earth but on the other side.

If there is air in the tunnel the the person will accelerate at a slower rate and burn up in the center of the earth.

Inspired_2write's avatar

One would die.
From the heat escaping long before he even go any distance.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Inspired_2write Read the question details and/or the comments made before yours: the question is specifically about the gravitational affects of jumping into the hole. We were explicitly told to disregard the effects of heat (as well as other complicating factors).

Zaku's avatar

If it were just a question of gravity, and the body didn’t interact with any other matter, the person would fall towards the center, with the attraction due to gravity falling to zero at the center, and then the person would ascend on the “opposite” side to the same height (to the surface), and then fall back through again, forever, since there would be no interaction with other matter.

However, the path would not be a straight one, unless you started falling at the north or south pole, because on other places you have the lateral initial velocity of the part of the surface you are on, and while that keeps you in place on the surface, as you fall lower, your relative lateral velocity would exceed the rate needed to keep in sync with the earth, so your path would be a spiral, not straight. So you probably want to use a polar tunnel.

If they interact with air in the tunnel, then they will quickly reach terminal velocity (about 120 Mph) due to air friction, and this will slow their fall to a constant, relatively slow rate, and leave them stuck oscillating near the center of the planet (gradually slowing down more and more due to air resistance).

Also if there is a column of air and they need to worry about air pressure, then yes they’d be crushed part-way down, though their corpse would continue to get stuck in the center per the previous paragraph. 1013 millibars (hPA) is surface pressure, and the diving record is about 33 atmospheres, so it looks like the person would probably be dead at 42 km down, using this pressure calculator.

I’m not sure why you asked “Would they hit the middle like a tomato to a brick wall and splatter as if hitting a solid object?” If they hit anything even at terminal velocity, yes, and they would tend to, unless you somehow made the tunnel the perfect shape, or used the north/south pole tunnel AND had some way to keep them from hitting the sides ever. (Though I imagine a side hit would be more a streaky smear effect.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. Miss all you guys.

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